MTPR

state budget

the 2017 Rice Ridge Fire near Seeley Lake
Inciweb

The State’s fire fighting savings account started this month with the second lowest balance since it was created a decade ago.

There’s only about $4 million in the fund’s reserves for this fire season. That’s about a fifth of what the state needs to cover an average fire season bill.

Cash register.
(PD)

Late last year Montana lawmakers carved about $170 million from state spending. That led to big cuts – for example, the state health department lost 4.5 percent of its budget, which slashed critical services for some of Montana’s most vulnerable.

Would a new revenue source, such as a sales tax, help prevent future budget crises?

Montana's Flathead Valley from above.
Nicky Ouellet

The Flathead Basin Commission is redefining its role protecting water quality in northwest Montana, after legislators gutted its funding last November and its executive director was fired in February.

The Commission spent much of Wednesday reinventing itself.

Montana capitol, Helena.
William Marcus

Revenue projections indicate the state will likely have enough money at the end of the fiscal year to backfill $45 million in cuts made to state agencies during last year’s special legislative session.

“We are extremely hopeful,” says Representative Nancy Ballance, the Republican chair of the Legislative Finance Committee, which met Monday morning.

Leaders of Montana’s K-12 public schools system will update state lawmakers Thursday morning about progress on rolling out the replacement for the federal No Child Left Behind Act following cuts to education funding last year.

The Office of Public Instruction plans to brief lawmakers on the schools identified this spring as the lowest performing five percent in the state.

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